Gord Johns, left, in a file photo from World Oceans Day.

Courtenay-Alberni MP worries business support might be too late

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced an expansion to eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to include many owner-operated small businesses.

The idea is to allow a greater number of businesses access interest-free loans to help cover operating costs while revenues have been reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“We have been pushing hard for these long overdue changes because some of the smallest and hardest hit businesses were left out of previous announcements,” Courtenay-Alberni MP Gord Johns said in a May 19 press release. “It is very encouraging that more of these business owners will be getting the support they really need.”

To qualify under the expanded eligibility criteria, applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 would need:

• A business operating account at a participating financial institution;

• Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return;

• Eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. These could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities and insurance.

While the announcement is a relief for business owners, Johns worries that it comes too late for many who have already closed their doors.

“Now that more business owners can access CEBA, the government needs to roll out the details of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program quickly,” Johns said. “We need to make sure our local communities don’t lose any more small businesses by finally getting them the rent help the government promised.”

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